Standing In The Gap Of The Real And Perceived
Well, Barney Frank, recently retired Democratic U.S. House Representative from Massachusetts, now boldly proclaims that Obama lied when selling Obamacare to the American public, telling us that we could keep our current coverage if we liked it (Barney Frank ‘Appalled’ by Obama Administration: “They Just Lied To People”).
First thoughts: Really? Barney and I agree on something? Can anyone out there please confirm for me that the sky has not cracked, and that Jesus has, in fact, not returned?
Second thoughts: Now that he’s got no skin in the game, Barney wants to get religious. Barney Frank’s vote for the Affordable Care Act makes him no less complicit in that lie than Obama’s signing of it into law. He lobbied for it just like Obama did, selling something to the American public he had not digested and didn’t understand, because that’s what he was told to do.
This underscores the reason that lobbyists, who, with their employers’ lawyers, draft most bills of consequence these days, should be outlawed in Washington, D.C. Bills should be debated and voted piecemeal, point by point, and/or executive line item veto power be given to the President.
Would that slow the legislative process down? Sure it would. Would it be a bad thing if the U.S. Congress passed fewer laws that more Americans could better understand? Nope.
The ACA, the version that President Obama signed into law, with riders (click here), is actually 974 pages long. The table of contents alone runs 35 pages.
But several versions of the law were debated before the law was passed, and one of those versions was 2400 pages long, or about 1.3 million words (Is Obamacare Really That Long?). The average adult reading speed is about 300 words per minute. At that rate, it would take a single congressman 57 hours to read, a married congressperson with children, much longer. Not to cross check, fact check, digest, and generate proposed changes. Just to read it, not to understand it. This recalls a joke I heard years ago:
“What do you get when you cross a lawyer with a godfather? You get an offer you can’t understand.”
But it’s now a little too real to be funny, isn’t it?
Here’s an example of a single page of the version of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that Obama signed. I dare you to read the whole page:
18 Sec. 1001\2715A PHSA PPACA (Consolidated)
Fun, huh? Now multiply that content by 974, and you’ve got the idea. So, would you pore over 974 of these? Or, would you rather just pass it so you “can see what’s in it?”
This, in a nutshell, is what’s wrong with the federal government. Yes, I know congressional representatives have staff. But the point is, when I could ride my bicycle to the Capitol building from my house in Asheville, NC (45 hours – see?) before my congressperson could finish reading a single version of the bill (57 hours), that’s just too damned long, purposefully. And I do mean damned, because we’re just beginning to see what has been foisted upon us.
Something’s gotta give, folks. And it will. So do yourself a favor: stay clear of the fan.